benefits of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine outweigh risks : WHO

Geneva, Feb 11 (Agency) The World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) said on Wednesday that the benefits of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Coronavirus vaccine outweigh the potential risks.

“The data reviewed by WHO support the conclusion that the known and potential benefits of AZD1222 outweigh the known and potential risk,” SAGE said in a set of interim recommendations. Citing trial data taken from studies in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil that saw participants receive two standard doses, SAGE said that the AstraZeneca vaccine showed 63.09 percent efficacy. SAGE also recommends that the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine be given at an interval of eight to 12 weeks between shots, and the experts also said that the vaccine appears to be safe for individuals aged 65 and above.

“Immune responses induced by the vaccine in older persons are well documented and similar to those in other age groups. Additionally, SAGE noted recent studies that have suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective against new COVID-19 strains, but still recommended the vaccine for use in countries, such as South Africa, where new strains are spreading. “In view of this, WHO currently recommends the use of AZD1222 vaccine … even if variants are present in a country,” SAGE said.